Photography emerged in the 1840s in the United States, and it became a visual medium that documents the harsh realities of enslavement. Similarly, the photography culture grew during the Civil War, and it became an important material that archived this unprecedented war. Deborah Willis's The Black Civil War Soldier: A Visual History of Conflict and Citizenship (New York University Press, 2021) contains rarely seen letters and diary notes from Black men and women and photographs of Black soldiers who fought and died in this war. These ninety-nine images reshape African American narratives. The Black Civil War Soldier offers an opportunity to experience the war through their perspectives.
N'Kosi Oates is a Ph.D. candidate in Africana Studies at Brown University. Find him on Twitter at NKosiOates.